The first time I read about the concept of a daemon or genius was in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. Ms. Gilbert, (or my BFF Liz, as I like to think of her), originally spoke about the concept of a daemon or genius in her TED Talk, “Your Elusive Creative Genius”, way back in 2009. (Watch it here. Seriously, it’s required watching for any creative.) But in the synchronous nature of the universe, lessons don’t come to us until we are both ready for them and actually need them. I wasn’t writing back in 2009. I was just getting divorced, running my law practice, raising my children and trying to survive, truthfully. Thinking back to that time, I don’t think I’d even heard of TED, and didn’t have the time or energy to write anything that wasn’t required for my day job.
My BFF Liz shares with us that in ancient Greece and Rome, people didn’t believe that they were geniuses. Instead, they believed that they had a genius, as it was called in Latin, or a daemon, as it was called in Greece. Their daemon or genius was an entity completely separate from the artist. Muse is the word that I was more familiar with before reading Big Magic or listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk.
Since reading Big Magic and watching “Your Elusive Creative Genius”, I’ve also heard my girl-crush Danielle LaPorte talk about daemons in session one of the Fire Starter Sessions, which I have now listened to an embarrassing number of times because I keep making other people listen to it with me.
In the way of the Law of Attraction, now that I’ve been opened up to the concept of a daemon or genius, they seem to be everywhere.
As I sit in my front yard, in front of my fire pit with my She Shed behind me and my water fountain burbling in the yard, I am obsessing about my daemon today.
My daemon or genius is a fairy-like creature who flitters about on glittering, gem-colored wings. When I listen carefully, she fills my head with fantastical thoughts and stories. She is generously visual, creating entire worlds of sparkling blue water and white sandy beaches or lush mountain streams and roaring waterfalls, all in my head. If nothing distracts me between the time she draws these scenes until my fingers can reach a keyboard, the pictures flow into words until they cover the screen.
I find her in the stillness of a walk along the causeway, or in front of the fire pit with the water fountain burbling and birds twittering, or sitting in the sun room with my little Yorkie snuggled by my thigh.
She likes Hawaiian musicians like Olomana and Hapa. But she adores classical piano music, which I found out quite by accident one weekend when I told my beau that I really, truly needed to write. He put classical piano music on Pandora, left me in peace, and the words flowed. The next day, he did it again with the same generous results.
My fairy genius will show up in a thunder storm or on a sunshiney day, as long as I am warm and dry. She loves moving water in all its forms: rivers and streams, water fountains, rain storms.
When I am trying to lure her out to play with me, I turn Pandora on the Classical Solo Piano Radio station. If I’m sitting outside, I freshen the water in the water fountain and turn it on. If I’m inside, I turn on the diffuser with lavender essential oil.
And then I sit in front of my computer and type. Sometimes, I type the words, “I don’t know what to type.” Sometimes, I type those words over and over again. Always, eventually, if I sit still long enough and lose myself in the magic of the music and the scent of wood smoke in the fire pit or lavender oil in the diffuser, the words will come. My fairy daemon has something to say, and once she is sure I am serious, she tells me the message of the day.
Peace is necessary for my fairy genius to show up. But solitude isn’t. She’s delivered some of her best work with my beau sitting next to me, either watching a movie or playing on his fancy “computer phone” or chatting away to me about something I can’t hear because I’m listening to my fairy genius.
My fairy genius is even more skittish than I am, and discord chases her away. Discordant classical music full of minor keys that sound like funereal tomes cause her to skitter away as quickly and efficiently as sharp words thrown like knives between my beau and me.
The more I get to know my fairy genius, and the more she gets to know me, the more elegantly we work together. I know now that when I am depressed, she won’t come visiting. When I am angry or stressed, she stays away. But when I sit with my face lifted toward the sun, close my eyes and sink into Beethovan’s Piano Sonata No. 14, she sits next to me, her head on my shoulder, and whispers fantasies into my ear.
She is instrumental in my Year of Big Magic, and is busy spinning the stories which are slowly becoming the Kirk’s Bluff Trilogy. I am busy listening to her, listening for her, and creating conditions that will draw her closer to me.
Since I wrote my memoir, I’ve had friends and family members ask me, “How do you write a book?” The simplest answer is you write. As the author L.K. McCall told me, it’s all about “Ass in Chair Time.” You sit at the computer screen, or grab a pen and a pad of paper, and put words down. But, of course, if it were really that simple, everybody would have written a book by now.
So maybe the advice should be get to know your daemon or genius. Talk to him. Lure her to you. And when he talks back, when she whispers in your ear, listen.
One author I know says his guardian angel, (which is how he thinks of his muse), smells like strawberries. Another says hers smells like lavender. She asked me what mine smells like, and I’m not really sure. But, incense seems like a good guess since it’s always burning when I’m creating.
If you are a creative, do you believe in a genius or daemon? If you do, how do you nurture your genius? How do you feed your daemon?
I’d love to hear your stories, my friend. Tell me how you create.
Until next time, keep your hearts and eyes,